I used to love baseball as much as any kid could love anything in this world outside of his family. Every year, when the baseball card packs came out, my aunt that had a variety store would give me the full box filled with hundreds of cards.
"Wow," I thought, "all my friends are going to be jealous of me now." I remember I'd bring them home, a few buddies would come over and we would look through them all. We looked at the photos, we read the stats on the back and we learned about the game by doing it. That's the innocence of the game that drew me in as a fan.
Fast forward 15 years to today. I have three nephews that are 15, 12 and 10 years old. You know what they say if I ask them if they want to go to a baseball game? They say things like, "I thought all of those guys are on steroids."
And why shouldn't they think that? They watch the sports shows every once in a while and all they ever see the media talking about with regards to baseball is the cheating involved.
There are a lot of people to blame for the steroid era in baseball. The moronic commissioner Bud Selig tops the list, the equally naïve players association is right there, the owners that knew it was happening and obviously the players for doing something that we all know is morally wrong by cheating.
However, what the sports media refuses to acknowledge is that they too are at fault here. They might be at the most fault.
The sports media has access to the players that you, Joe Fan, and I don't have. They can see them in the locker room. They can see them mingling with family and friends. Most of us can't do that. The media's job is to report what the players do back to us, the fans.
We expect them to report the truth with that. The guys that cover baseball did a terrible job of that.
You know why the media went after Barry Bonds so hard instead of Mark McGwire? It's not because Bonds is black like some might think. It's because Bonds is a jerk. If you're a jerk to the media then the vultures in the press are going to do everything in their power to bring you down.
Bonds rarely gave these guys in the media the kind of quotes they like to print in their papers (or on their websites). What did they do? Attack him. They were as persistent as any writers on any subject in sports that I've ever seen. All because Bonds was a jerk.
McGwire was different to them. He gave good quotes. He smiled with them. He joked around. He did all this while he had a substance in his locker room, Androstenedione, which was banned by every reputable organization in sports it was not banned in Major League Baseball.
Why? Because the people running baseball were more interested in bringing fans back to the game because their own ineptitude cost everybody the 1994 World Series from ever happening.
The commissioner, owners and players association all knew that steroids were prevalent in baseball. They deny knowing anything, but that's a lie to cover their own butts. Why would they be honest about it now? To piss off their fans even more? They'll never admit to it, unless they need to write a book to make money. They didn't care about having a clean sport. It was all about the money. And the sports media was along for the ride.
One of the most well known sports reporters is Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News and a regular member of ESPN's Sports Reporters show. What's funny to me is that he's been one of the most vocal members of the sports media against the steroid users of baseball. On the surface that's great. Good for him, right? Not really.
It should be pointed out that he wrote a bestselling book called Summer of '98 that writes about how great the home-run chase of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were. He's changed his tune since then, but has he changed it enough to give back all the money he made from being a hypocrite by writing such diatribe? No, of course not.
If he actually had morals he might give back the money he made by sensationalizing something that ruined the game of baseball for millions of fans. Lupica's just like Selig and the higher ups in baseball. He'll pretend he knew nothing of the subject even though he clearly did. Many of his brethren in the sports media are the same way.
Can you blame them? If they write damning articles about Major League Baseball on a regular basis they could get their credentials taken away! Oh no, they might actually have to pay ridiculously high prices like the hardworking, average fan! Better not write bad things. Better get in line and do as MLB wants them to do.
I'm not denying Bonds took illegal substances. So did Mark McGwire, though. There was more evidence against him and it was clearly used by him before Bonds started using.
The prevalent belief is that Bonds started using in 1999, one year after a lesser player than him, McGwire, had broken the coveted single season home run record of 61 (McGwire hit 70 in 1998, which Bonds later topped in 2001 with 73).
McGwire was celebrated for his accomplishments rather than being criticized for it. Why? Because he's a good guy that smiles a lot with an adorable
The saddest part of all this is that there might not even be drug testing in baseball today if it wasn't for a book "written" by Jose Canseco. (I put written in quotes because I doubt Jose Canseco can write a sentence much less a book.)
Imagine that, huh? This entire thing was broken open by a foolish man who blew all the money he made during his steroid filled career. He wrote the book because he needed the money.
The book led to congress meeting with some of baseball's top stars, which is when McGwire basically admitting his guilt by refusing to talk about the past. The same writers that were in the locker room with McGwire's illegal drugs sitting in his locker were now criticizing the man.
This all led to congress (apparently with nothing better to do like preventing the worst recession in 60 years) forcing the hand of Major League Baseball by adapting a drug policy.
And the media? They commended MLB for doing it. What a joke. If they had any sense of morals or class, MLB would have incorporated this kind of drug testing system at least ten years, if not more.
It's a shame that most fans out there are lemmings that eat up whatever diatribe the media spouts to them. Not enough people can think on their own, which his one of the biggest failings of sports in North America. At least in this generation where information can be found at a click of the mouse it is easier to seek out the truth if you want to find it.
You know what I'd be doing right now if I was a known performance enhancing drug user like Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds? I'd be sitting in my mansion with my family laughing about how stupid the people are that ran baseball.
No Hall of Fame? Who cares? I have money. Enough money to support myself, my kids, my kids and generations to come...if I'm smart. And if I'm not smart? I'd write a book! Worked for that idiot Canseco. I'd also be emailing my favorite sportswriters to thank them for being just as inept as the men in charge of the game.
"Dear inept sportswriter,
I'd like to thank you for helping me become a rich man by ignoring the fact that my body changed physically to the point that even an uneducated person could tell that I used drug to enhance my performance. They say that ballplayers are stupid, but you guys take it to another level. Thanks bro!
(Insert name of performance enhancing drug user)
P.S. When you think about me remember one thing, alright? I'm rich because I put those drugs in my body. Very rich. Thanks to guys like you."
So, anybody want to look at some baseball cards?